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D&D General WotC: Novels & Non-5E Lore Are Officially Not Canon

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At a media press briefing last week, WotC's Jeremey Crawford clarified what is and is not canon for D&D.

"For many years, we in the Dungeons & Dragons RPG studio have considered things like D&D novels, D&D video games, D&D comic books, as wonderful expressions of D&D storytelling and D&D lore, but they are not canonical for the D&D roleplaying game."


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"If you’re looking for what’s official in the D&D roleplaying game, it’s what appears in the products for the roleplaying game. Basically, our stance is that if it has not appeared in a book since 2014, we don’t consider it canonical for the games."

2014 is the year that D&D 5th Edition launched.

He goes on to say that WotC takes inspiration from past lore and sometimes adds them into official lore.

Over the past five decades of D&D, there have been hundreds of novels, more than five editions of the game, about a hundred video games, and various other items such as comic books, and more. None of this is canon. Crawford explains that this is because they "don’t want DMs to feel that in order to run the game, they need to read a certain set of novels."

He cites the Dragonlance adventures, specifically.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
FR depth of lore is part of the appeal of the setting, that its a living setting, dumping 90% of lore kills that and also means that current FR lore makes no sense because the context of the past lore when acted as the foundation for the 5e lore.
They did not dump anything.

They are just saying that what happened before may or may not be used in future publication as is. Not that everything that came before 5e was false!
 


Rabulias

Hero
A fair and reasonable stance. 40+ years of content is too much to manage, for the game's producers/writers/designers as well as for players! Not to mention so much of it being out of print; how fair would that be? Heck, there have already been a few minor inconsistencies within 5e's canon itself, and that's just 7 years of (slow) content.

But all that rich D&D history and lore is still out there for any DM who wants to use it in their own game, as well as the D&D team to adapt and utilize in new products. Despite those who think it will happen, Wizards of the Coast still refuses to hire Seal Team Six for a Game Police Division. :)
 


Within the context of 'current setting' no, it's no longer canon, and is irrelevant.
Honest question, as I don't understand the issue:

Can you give an example (even hypothetical) of how this makes anything irrelevant? As a DM prepping for an upcoming session or a player sitting at the table, how would making the prior literature non-canon change your experience?

Or is it that it opens the door for them to make future changes that causes the issues (ie Elminster is now a halfling paladin) ?

Thank You,
 


I think it's more likely they're going to reboot the series to the War of the Lance era, keep Tika and the others as NPCs, and just start over with how things go from there, rather than keeping all the old Novels and stuff as "This is how things go in the modules and setting."

Same thing with Athas. Probably gonna see a complete retcon of Rajaat and the Cerulean Storm storyline in favor of a "New Mystery" of what really happened in the world.

Something that ties into the core spirit of the setting without being beholden to what came before, even when it uses some bits of what was previously written.
Probably for the best as far as Dragonlance is concerned. The original novels are remembered fondly, but haven't aged all that well, and then the series just went downhill from there as far as I'm concerned...

I'm curious as to why you think they'd retcon Rajaat. The Sorcerer Kings in the present day of Tyr, yeah maybe tone down the more gratuitous aspects of the whole slavery thing, but do people have issues with the Dark Sun backstory, and Rajaat specifically? And how much do you think they might change?
 


This is almost certainly being stated now in advance of the revised and heavily altered Dragonlance campaign

Emphasizing the old novels (and likely the new ones) are not canon
As they completely rework the setting like they did to Ravenloft

Since they're also likely doing a new Forgotten Realms book as well, they might be revising and updating that setting again. Making changes to parts of that world to match the current author's likes, removing disliked elements, and adjusting lore to better fit their upcoming adventures
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Up to the moment it's reprinted in a canon source? No, it may as well not exist.
That's an exaggeration. You know it. It does not look good on you or your argument.

Do you refuse to use anything not officially canon in your games?

I add elements of the Bhaalspawn sage and Icewind Dale in many of my FR games and they are not canon. Strangely it never broke anything in a game. Even if the SCAG does not refer to the Siege of Saradush, Khuldahar or the Severed Hand.
 

King Babar

Adventurer
Up to the moment it's reprinted in a canon source? No, it may as well not exist.
Does it really matter at your own table? The D&D police aren't going to arrest you for crimes against canon. WotC isn't going to wipe all non-canon media from existence.

If WotC wants to clean up their own canon, they have that right. You also have the right to ignore it and do your own thing.
 

RFB Dan

Podcast host, 6-edition DM, and guy with a pulse.
It's all a calculated risk, from what I see. First, we need to acknowledge they're not going to drastically alter the settings. I recognized the new Ravenloft just fine, for example. Knowing that the core of what makes Krynn, Athas, or Toril what it is will still be there.

Many have said that the decades of lore can be daunting to new players. I can see that. So here's where the calculated risk is for WotC. They can either conform to the old canon, continuing to make newer players a bit overwhelmed the the amount of source material, or do this and make the older players read the new book to understand the changes. To WotC (and many here from what I see), it's better for their current audience to have older players read the new canon that the new players already have to read too, instead of a mass dump on the newbies.

Sure I'm sad; the Dragonlance Chronicles & Legends mean a lot to me. But I still have them. And WotC isn't going to be removing all those modules & accessories from DTRPG any time soon as it's a low-overhead revenue generator.
 

Remathilis

Legend
FR depth of lore is part of the appeal of the setting, that its a living setting, dumping 90% of lore kills that and also means that current FR lore makes no sense because the context of the past lore when acted as the foundation for the 5e lore.
I haven't seen anything saying they are literally removing things, merely they are not feeling beholden to it. They aren't going to go though stacks of novels and Dragon articles to make sure they are keeping continuity anymore.
 

Scribe

Hero
Can you give an example (even hypothetical) of how this makes anything irrelevant?
Since I'm fully tilted now I probably just need to get on my PC to fully explain but I'm on my phone.

TLDR: At the table? Mostly irrelevant as that's your take on the World. It's the setting through your eyes and experience.

Outside of that, when looking at the setting as an entity with a 'meta plot' or whatever you want to call it, that gets lost. It just does.

Tanis, is a specific character. His story was part of the lore, the canon.

He and everything else pre 5th, can now just be waved away, it's not canon.

I HATE retcons, especially lazy ones just to bend to whichever way the wind is blowing.

This is a loss to me.
 

grimslade

Doddering Old Git
Ok. I like canon. I love the 'deep cuts' that get thrown to new adventures referencing old material. What happens when the old material is problematic though? Do we cling to canonical Vistani or the reworked Vistani? WotC isn't dumping 50 years of stories, they just aren't going to hold them as sacred cows because of tradition. This is a good thing. Castle Greyhawk doesn't have to be a 40-year-old insult to Gary Gygax anymore. All of the mods and settings books from previous editions will continue to be offered digitally, but not all of the novels are in print or available anymore, how does someone access this crucial lore from one of the later collections of Dragonlance short stories that contain this invaluable bit of esoteric insight in the origin of tinker gnome hygiene?
Crawford is being honest. Truth is the 'canon' for most lines was only infrequently invoked. At best there have been Easter Egg mentions to things or timeline advances to 'preserve' canon. The Spellplague for 4E FR is canon and preserves canon by destroying the preexisting canon? These are the hoops you have to jump through with the fiction lines intersecting with the TTRPG lines in shared universes. I don't think they are going to suddenly remove the Sword Coast from the rest of FR and merge it with Greyhawk because there is no CANON anymore, we can do whatever we want. There is no longer one true table history for these settings, all tables are equal in the history of the setting. There is still plenty of historical text to mine for ideas though.
 

PMárk

Explorer
Well. It was plain that they're thinking like that for a while, but now it's official. Not going to sugarcoat, I hate this and this approach is what turned me off of WotC and 5e the most.
 


vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
This is almost certainly being stated now in advance of the revised and heavily altered Dragonlance campaign

Emphasizing the old novels (and likely the new ones) are not canon
As they completely rework the setting like they did to Ravenloft

Since they're also likely doing a new Forgotten Realms book as well, they might be revising and updating that setting again. Making changes to parts of that world to match the current author's likes, removing disliked elements, and adjusting lore to better fit their upcoming adventures
This.

Sure the settings will change. They will be changed many time again in the future.

Having to drag 40 years of (barely) coherent lore for a setting is unsustainable. If not soft corrections and changes like Ravenloft received, be sure that the FR will receive yet another retconning cataclysm to make a major sweeping reset.

Dont know for the rest of you, but I prefer gradual rectifications than hard-resets to my settings.
 


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